Latest H2B News
May 20, 2020
Japan launched a rocket Thursday carrying a Kounotori unmanned cargo vessel, developed by the country's space agency, on its final mission to transport supplies to the International Space Station. The H2B rocket carrying the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kounotori 9 lifted off at 2:31 a.m. from the remote Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. Fifteen minutes later, the cargo vessel was detached from the rocket and put into a planned orbit. The launch was the last for both the Kounotori, which means "stork" in Japanese, and the H2B rocket, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (File photo of the Kounotori 9 unmanned cargo transporter)[Courtesy of JAXA] "We would like to proceed with each and every task, and round off its final mission with a triumph," Keiji Suzuki, a member of the heavy machinery maker's space program, said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday. The cylindrical cargo transporter carrying food, equipment for experiments and other provisions is scheduled to dock at the space station on May 25, according to JAXA. Some of the staff involved in the launch participated from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has succeeded in all eight previous launches of the Kounotori cargo vessel, which can carry up to 6 tons of supplies. Its first mission was undertaken in 2009. Since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, the Konotori has been the sole cargo vessel capable of carrying large equipment to the ISS. The Kounotori 9 will capture images of the ISS in its orbit about 400 kilometers above Earth to test communications technology designed to determine the vessel's location and status. The data collected will be used by the vessel's successor, the HTV-X. After docking with the ISS for a number of weeks, the Konotori 9 is scheduled to leave the space station with unnecessary items and burn up by reentering the atmosphere.